Wristcutters: A Love Story: Goran Dukic’s Quirky Indie (Sundance Fest)

Truly independent in text and sensibility, Goran Dukic’s “Wristcutters: A Love Story,” was a highlight of the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, a more original film that the pictures that left the fest with awards and distribution deals, such as “Quinceneara.”

The yarn depicts a quirky, offbeat universe, both strangely familiar and surprising, sort of an afterlife of menial jobs, defined by dingy bars, bad transportation and old jukeboxes. Which might explain why it is released theatrically, by Autonomous Films, close to two years after its premiere.

After arriving to the afterlife, Zia (Patrick Fugit) an aimless but amiable young man, lands a job at Kamikaze Pizzeria and learns that things are not so different from his previous “real” life–just a little bit worse and weirder.

Zia cheers upon when he realizes that he is not alone. In fact, like many other youths, his fantasy woman, the desirable Desiree (Leslie Bibb), has also committed suicide. As he takes a journey to find the love of his life, Zia discovers two friends, the clever, oddly charming Russian rocker (Shea Whigham) and a sexy intelligent ingenue (Shannyn Sossamon), who is determined to prove she is does not belong to the after-life, that she is there by a gross and cruel mistake.

Together, in an orange station wagon held together by masking tape, this impromptu family hits the road, meeting along the way other colorful persona, such as Kneller (vet, multi-talented Tom Waits, who should work more often), who shepherds them through the ultimate version of Utopia.

Filled with unexpected turns (even miracles), and displaying dark sensibility and absurdist humor, “Wristcutters: A Love Story,” is strangely enough an upbeat movie, celebrating the preciousness of life rather than death.

Almost in diametric opposition to the predictable crowd pleasing “Quinceneara,” which inexplicably won the jury and audience awards (but underperformed commercially), “Wristcutters: A Love Story” divided film critics due to its original (some said “perverse”) vision, and perhaps scared distributors due to its subject matter.

Nonetheless, Croatian-born writer-director Goran Dukic has made a romantic comedy about suicide victims that flaunts both European (Easter more than Western) and American sensibility. I don’t expect “Wristcutters” to have a huge theatrical audience (it will do better on DVD), but the film serves as a calling card for its talented director.

Running Time: 88 minutes


Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, Shea Whigham, Leslie Bibb, Mikal P. Lazarev, Mark Boone Jr. Abraham Benrubi, Mary Pat Gleason, Clayne Crawford, Anthony Azizi, Azura Skye, Nick Offerman, Sarah Roemer with John Hawkes and Tom Waits.